The s’chach is rolled, packed away with the sukkah. Klal Yisrael has transitioned from expansive wishes of “A Gut Yohr” to a more defined “A Gut Vinter,” as the days get shorter and colder. Somewhere between these blessings, there is a third “Gut,” a “Gut Kvittel.” But what does this “Good Note” ensure? It is a blessing that the verdict handed down on the Yamim Tovim and sealed in permanent ink on Hoshana Rabbah is a good one.
The all-important midterm elections are just around the corner. Okay, they may not have the same cachet as the run for the White House, but nonetheless they are essential. This election will have an immediate and dramatic impact on our lives as Americans, our lives as Jews, and the lives of Jews in Israel. A person’s vote in this election is their Constitutional right to write a secular version of a “kvittel” (lehavdil) on a candidate with their ballot, passing judgment on the job performance of an incumbent with a vote for or against, or prognosticating a candidate’s worth with a vote. A third possibility rears its ugly head far too often: the voter is forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. Let’s hope that will not be the case in two weeks.
When an incumbent is either no longer permitted to run (“termed-out”), or chooses for any reason not to run, it makes them impervious to criticism. They have nothing to lose politically because they are pursuing nothing politically. This is the present State of the Union address — 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the address of the White House. At present, the White House is run by a president who in my opinion holds views antagonistic to Israel. His appointments to key positions, specifically Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Attorney General, demonstrate his disdain for Jewish values and Israel. The present resident of the White House pursues a personal agenda with impunity, dispatching his coterie of cabinet secretaries (i.e. Secretary of State Kerry in Israel and throughout the Middle East) and Justice Department appointments to execute his vision.
It is funny how the U.S. form of government is a study in geometry: an equilateral triangle — three equal branches of government — that goes around and around like a circle.
The midterm elections serve the crucial role of potentially restoring checks and balances to the three branches of the U.S. government. The control of the Senate is up for grabs, with a very good chance that it will shift to the Republicans. If this transfer of control were to take place, there would be an inherent check by the Senate’s legislative power to the president’s executive power, and this almost certainly would have an impact on the judicial branch of government. With a new Senate majority, presidential appointments, if not blocked, would at least be subject to greater scrutiny and review. It is for this reason that the midterm elections cannot be overestimated.
However, if the Senate remains under the control of the Democrats, which is to say a rubber stamp of the executive branch, the president will be able to concretize his vision of an America that bears little resemblance to what the Founding Fathers and subsequent two centuries of authentic American leaders envisioned. Through his selection of federal court judges and possibly a few Supreme Court justices tilting a divided court decidedly left, his influence on America’s social definition will endure long after he has vacated the White House.
The president’s views are what makes these midterm elections more critical than any in memory. The Torah community in America and around the world (especially in Israel) eligible to vote, all those who care about Israel (even with justified reservations), and all American citizens who believe in eternal values and reject relativism, who believe in the very American “exceptionalism,” that the president rejected early on and throughout his tenure, who do not agree with the president’s distortions of American history, must vote on the first Tuesday of November, or grow more isolated in an America that no longer values the claim of its own Pledge of Allegiance, “One Nation, under G-d…”
Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst, and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at